Speaker Interview: Veronica La Regina, Director, Global Engagement, Europe at NanoRacks
Hi Veronica, could you please tell us a little bit more about your position with NanoRacks?
I lead the European company of NanoRacks, based in Torino, Italy. The decision to open up a company in Europe is to further contribute to the emerging commercial space ecosystem. By opening up in Italy, we are now able to better serve customers and partners across Europe and Asia. As of today, we have brought payloads from more than 34 nations to the International Space Station, and we look forward to continuing and maturing our growth in line with our credo of making space accessible to everyone.
You will participate in the Roundtable Session: 'From LEO Commercialisation to Human Settlement in Space' panel on the Industry Conference on Thursday 21 November. What are the main challenges the commercialisation of low-Earth orbit faces at the moment?
The challenges are driven by an emerging mass of new users in LEO. The users are not only space companies – start-ups and established ones; rather, they include bio-tech, food and beverage companies, and more and more interdisciplinary universities. As such, the kind of facilities that payloads hosts require new design and related investments. It involves working with space agencies to extend their current missions to private involvement, in order to enlarge the users where space agencies do not have influence.
There are many potential applications that open up when commercial companies establish themselves in the microgravity environment of LEO. What are the main examples of these applications and what type of applications do you expect to grow in this area?
In the kick-start phase of new markets there is always a bet about the next big application. In order to be successful and sustainable, it is valuable to diversify your stakes. As such, NanoRacks already has various facilities in orbit running several types of experiments and tech demos for a multifaceted set of customers – for example, those in agri-tech, fluids dynamics, bio-pharma, plasma materials and so on.
How do you see interest in LEO commercialisations emerging in Europe?
Frankly, there is a lot of interest in taking part in this new trend! Most of the customers, primarily start-ups, are still from the space sector. The non-space customers are looking for strong evidence of benefits from performing their R&D in space. As such, the pace is a little bit slower here than in the US. Anyhow, the road to space is definitely more affordable than in the past.
In terms of industry news, what development, announcement or otherwise has stood out most to you in the past year and why?
At NanoRacks we are very keen to open up space to everyone. This implies investment in our dedicated facilities, such as Bishop, the first privately owned commercial airlock on the ISS, and other smaller ones. Besides the hardware, the business model and way of selling this type of service also brings challenges and requires a lot of creativity to lower the price barrier of accessing space at affordable conditions. In doing this, we are quite successful in bringing space to new stakeholders.
If you could have one historical figure over to dinner, who would it be and why?
Historical to me means that they made my history. So, I would like to choose my teacher at primary school. It’s where everyone learns the basics of counting and the alphabet. These tools are pivotal and we would be lost without them. Why? Because in LEO commercialisation, we need to be able to build with similar tools to move to the next level.
We’re looking forward to seeing you at the Industry Conference at Space Tech Expo Europe. What are you most looking forward to at the show?
Exciting customers and a sparkling environment to mature new applications in LEO. Of course, this can happen only with interesting people!
Join Veronica in the roundtable session 'From LEO Commercialisation to Human Settlement in Space' on Thursday 21 November 2019 at the Industry stage.